Legendary hip-hop producer Robert Diggs, a.k.a The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, is joining Boombotix as a creative director of sorts and working with the company to release a new collection of portable speakers that come with exclusive content from various artists.
We got the chance to ask RZA some questions about the new partnership and feel out his plans for using the speakers with embedded music releases as a platform beyond just selling speakers.
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The idea comes from a collaboration between the musician and Boombotix back in 2014 that saw Wu-Tang Clan’s “A Better Tomorrow” album bundled with the Boombot REX speaker. Now, the company is working with RZA to get other artists onboard for similar collaborations and a new line of “Chambers Collection” speakers.
According to the company, part of the goal of the strategy is to restore some of what we lost in the move to digital distribution. That is, to restore the “artistic value of music” by avoiding illegal downloads and bringing back the type of excitement associated with how we used to buy music and covet albums as physical objects.
“For me, I wanted to find a way to cross pollinate the electronic world with the music world, instead of them being separate, and I think that’s what we’re doing here,” RZA told me.
Head below for the full interview with RZA, the new Head Abbot of Boombotix.
It seems like the ambition with the exclusive content goes beyond just wanting to use your celebrity status to push audio products like others from the music industry… Why did you want to get involved in speakers?
RZA: For me, I wanted to find a way to cross pollinate the electronic world with the music world, instead of them being separate, and I think that’s what we’re doing here. So we cross-pollinate, and now we have it all in one package. For me, you know when you used to buy a record or a CD, and you appreciate the physicality of it, you still needed something else to listen to it. But when Bluetooth speakers came out, with standalone units, you know, we are actually reinventing the delivery of music. That’s the main thing with me getting involved is to get the music back in the customer’s hands. I thought about this with headphones at first, but we never got that far, and with the Bluetooth speaker it’s more practical and shareable.
It’s different than having an album playing in the headphones, but with this speaker, someone hits play and immediately them and they friends can enjoy the artist’s work immediately.
Physical, like anything physical, it’s there, it’s on your person. If we got to a situation where Pandora had trouble with connection, you can’t get that music. If you’re hiking up in the mountains and you don’t have a signal, or your phone dies, then you don’t have music. But having a physical speaker with content on it, there’s your solution.
Is the goal to be a true music platform? Or just to sell speakers?
RZA: …this is a new way to put the music back into people’s hands, you know, that’s the main thing.
Boombotix: This concept isn’t a true music platform, we’re simply adding to the music ecosystem and giving artists another option for their content. In terms of our overall business it’s one component of it.
Are there any specific musicians planned for exclusive content on the new speakers? Will they just be hip-hop artists?
RZA: We already set up a site where the average fan can come on and decide their color schemes, and personalize their Boombot REX. For us, this shows the universality of our platform, not only will we be branching off into other genres, but as a fan, you can customize your device as well.
There are plans to release some music in mid-June with various artists we can’t talk about yet.
Another great thing that this idea can advance on is music catalogs (already recorded material). We can go to Warner Brothers and put on their top 100 disco songs. You buy your disco Boombot REX and you’re ready to dance
Couldn’t Apple just offer exclusive content with Beats products and do the same thing? Would you team up with a music service to distribute the exclusive content for users or would that defeat the purpose?
RZA: Of course, Apple could do the same thing, but we are the originator of this idea. We’re first to market, and we intend to establish ourselves as the thought leader of marrying hardware and music content.
Will you or Wu-Tang be releasing exclusive content through the speakers?
PR Person: Yes, the team will be releasing exclusive content on these speakers that won’t be available anywhere else. We cannot speak about what those projects in the works are at this time.
What makes the speakers different from the competition outside of exclusive content/flash storage?
RZA: At the end of the day, we make the best sounding compact speakers on the market. The portability and durability also made it attractive to me. Get your hands on one of our products and you’ll be impressed by the quality.
Just yesterday I walked into my house and I thought “Oh shit, that sounds extremely well.” It was my son who was playing with our latest speaker that will launch in a month. That new speaker coming out is hands down the best portable speaker at $100.
That speaker, if you accidentally drop it in a pool while you’re partying, you can pull it out, and you’ll still be partying. We made it waterproof.
The creative process is different because it’s not something that is just audio and visual, it’s also technical. An idea that sounds logical, may not be able to be achieved because of technical hurdles.
Seeing some of our ideas already come to light and knowing that others might come to fruition as we launch more products is just as exciting as making a film or an album because you’re creating something that’s new to the world and very artistic at the same time.